I found out this weekend that my biological father, C, is dying. He was never a healthy man. He smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and is consistently inconsistent about taking the meds that control his MS. He is a workaholic, barely sleeps, and eats food that is only suitable for a trash compactor. He is 51 and has had more health maladies than an 80 year old man. He is not long for this world.
I found out this weekend he is dying, that he is on a heart transplant list and if he doesn’t shape up the next, soon approaching heart attack will most assuredly be his last.
I found out he was dying from my brother. We–a father and a daughter–haven’t talked in eleven years. He missed college, milestones, my first love. He walked away, called me a fucking cunt, cut me out of photos. He pushed me out of the family, told everyone I was to be avoided. I was a child, a strong willed, independent child, who was brave enough to stand up to a man who mentally and emotionally abused us for years. This was my punishment.
My father is dying and what I struggle with the most is how little I care. I have mourned him. I have grieved what could not be, confronted the demons that haunted me for years. To be sure my fractured relationship with him has shaped me. I am sure that without him weight would not have been such a battle, a period of promiscuity could have been avoided, and my penchant for unavailable men nipped in the bud…but it is done. No one forced my hand in to the cookie jar or down the pants of undeserving men. Years of therapy, maturity, and a wonderful, caring stepfather (who I consider to be the only real father I have ever known) have made it easier to understand him, me, and my reaction to this relationship…or lack there of.
My father is dying and I am relieved, I am ready. My head hurts but not my heart. I worry about logistics, about whether to attend the funeral of a man who never deserved the family he created. I worry about my brother. I run through scenarios in my head, how I can tactfully say “No, really, it is ok” when condolences are inevitably expressed. I wonder if, ten years from now, I will regret not speaking to him before his death. A good friend said to me yesterday “you cannot expect ill health to transform assholes”. And, my friends, my father is a lost soul. This is a man on his death bed and I have not heard a word from him. I don’t blame myself anymore; you can’t chose your parents and parental love is not one of life’s guarantees.
My father is dying and I sit here and call him an asshole…not out of anger or revenge, merely as a statement of fact. The facts, though? Sometimes they aren’t pretty.
My father is dying and he reminds me who I am…that I am strong, that I am resilient, that I have come so far. I didn’t think this would push me out of hiding. In fact, the warm cozy hole I have been hiding in beckons for me, but writing this feels right. Writing this reminds me I cannot be silenced by him, even in his life’s twilight.
My father is dying and I thank him for making me me. Despite everything, the tears, the pain, the struggles, thank you Dad. Without you there is no me.